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Women's Fencing wins fifth straight Ivy League title, men place third

The No. 1 women’s fencing team made a statement this weekend, winning its fifth-straight Ivy League title by a wide margin. As the women celebrated their victory, the No. 5 men failed to win the league but pulled off quite a feat themselves, upsetting the top-ranked team in the nation.

The women, no strangers to the happy side of blowout victories, started the day with a 23-4 thumping of Cornell. The Tigers swept the saber and had little trouble in the other weapons, building momentum for what was to be one of the weekend’s decisive matches.

Harvard, one of the two biggest threats to Princeton’s chances for a fifth-straight title, came out strong, as senior saberist Diamond Wheeler’s 5-2 win was its only victory of the first round. Junior foilist Ambika Singh and sophomore epeeist Anna Van Brummen got the ball rolling for the Tigers with a pair of comeback victories. From there, Princeton held on, making up for a 7-2 defeat in the saber by going 6-3 and 7-2 in the epee and foil, respectively, to take the match by three points.

After a tense, narrow victory, the rest of Saturday proved less of a challenge. The Tigers steamrolled Yale 26-1 and easily overcame Brown 19-8 to end the day. Junior epeeist Kat Holmes went 10-1 on the day, while Van Brummen went 7-1.

Sunday started much the same way, with Penn putting up little resistance against a surging Princeton squad. The 25-2 win set the stage for the final match of the weekend between the Tigers and the Columbia Lions, who were also 4-0.

Thanks to a great start from the saberists and another come-from-behind victory from Van Brummen, the Tigers found themselves up 7-2. The saberists did not relent, as Wheeler won the first bout of the second round 5-0 and Stone added another win to put the tigers up 9-3.

It soon became clear that Princeton was pulling away. Holmes and Singh notched impressive victories and, as the Tigers’ score inflated, it was a one-point win that would clinch their title: sophomore saberist Desirae Major took down Brittin Boenning 5-4 and the Tigers roared in celebration.

The men battled back Saturday after a disappointing start against Harvard. The Crimson powered past the Tigers 18-9 on the strength of a 7-2 showing in the saber, where only freshman Peter Pak put up points for Princeton. Against Yale, however, the saberists helped pave the way to victory, winning 6-3 as senior Phil Dershwitz went 3-0. The Tigers also went 6-3 in the epee, taking the match 16-11. They would defeat Brown by the same score to end the day, with Pak and freshman epeeist Alex House going 3-0.

Their hopes of winning the Ivy title would be dashed for good, however, in a heartbreaking opening match on Sunday. The match was tied at 13 as sophomore foilist Michael Dudey stepped onto the strip to face Penn’s Adam Elkassas. Falling behind several times but always coming back, Dudey forced overtime. The final touch went to Elkassas, however, and the Tigers fell to Penn 14-13.

They led 5-4 after the first round of their final match against leading contender Columbia. Against the odds, the one-point lead over the No. 1 team in the country held. Though the loss of the Ivy title will be a tough pill to swallow, the men gave themselves a major boost going into the NCAA championships by finishing the weekend with a 14-13 upset.

The loss forced the Lions to share the title with Harvard. The Tigers will have just one competition, the Temple Duals in two weeks, before NCAA Regionals on March 8 and the NCAA Tournament from March 20 to 23, where they will be going for a second-straight combined national championship.

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